Tonight sees our postponed FA Cup 4th Round replay at the Grove. We’re now a round behind everybody else due to two snow-flakes and one icy paving stone. Ridiculous but there it is. Our injury-strewn season ensures that Abou Diaby, Cesc Fàbregas, Theo Walcott, Tomáš Rosický, Emmanuel Adebayor and Mikaël Silvestre are all unavailable for selection. Aaron Ramsey is also a doubt following the tweak he picked up for Wales against Poland in Portugal last Wednesday. Andrey Arshavin signed too late to be eligible for the fourth round of the FA Cup although he can play in later rounds if we get through tonight. Emmanuel Eboué is suspended following his red card at the Lane.
Frankly, I think he should be suspended, but in a cage from the roof so we can all throw rotten fruit and vegetables at him. His dismissal at the Lane was a piece of crass stupidity and could have cost us all three points, never mind the two we dropped.
Tonight’s game starts a run of four consecutive home matches with games against Sunderland and Fulham in the League sandwiched around the home Champions League tie against Roma in the round of sixteen first leg. We don’t leave London again until we travel to the West Midlands for a League game at the Hawthorns against the Baggies on 3 March. Let’s worry about them AFTER tonight.
Due to the snow postponement our path is now fairly clear to the FA Cup semi-finals. Yesterday’s evening’s draw gave us a home tie against Sheffield United or Hull City in the 6th round if we beat the Bluebirds tonight and Burnley in the 5th round, but all that’s supposition. Tonight is all that matters at the moment. I drone on about this constantly, but one game at a time, one game at a time, one game at a time. I honestly think that’s the key to success.
Those good people at REDaction, which started life as the Arsenal Atmosphere Group (it does what it says on the tin) have called for all Gooners to bring flags to tonight’s match. Theoretically there is a national flag ban at the Grove. The genesis of this ludicrously over the top decision was a few Greek Cypriots getting upset at a North Cyprus flag being displayed at the Grove. What complete tosh. The consequence of this ban is that both the flag of St George and the Union Jack are both banned from our ground, not to say the flags of the eighteen nationalities in our squad. This is yet another example of the “sit down and shut up whilst we empty your wallet” attitude of modern professional football.
REDaction also organise pre and post match drinks and a sing-song at The Rocket on Holloway Road, next to the London Metropolitan University’s post-graduate building (the asymmetrical aluminium building designed by the architect Daniel Leibeskind. The beer is very reasonably priced, there’s a big screen and the company is excellent. I’d recommend it as a top place for a few pre and post match pints.
That’s all for today. Keep the faith!